The Wisconsin State Assembly passed a bill this week to make sure that domestic violence offenders and child abusers give up their weapons on conviction. The federal government already requires offenders to turn in their weapons when a domestic abuse restraining order or injunction is issued against them. The same provision is found in Wisconsin law, but the law currently does not have any teeth to it, because no agency is required to monitor the relinquishment of guns and weapons once an injunction or restraining order is entered.
That situation will change if the assembly bill becomes law. Under the bill, anyone served with a temporary restraining order must be advised that they cannot possess firearms, under any circumstances, and that they are required to surrender their weapons. The bill also requires the completion of a specific, notarized, questionnaire detailing the make, model and serial number of any firearms owned in the past six months. If the guns are not surrendered within 48 hours, the person issued with the restraining order would be required to participate in another hearing to verify that the firearms have been surrendered.
Firearms must be surrendered to either the sheriff or another person approved by the Court, which could include family or friends. This provision causes consternation among domestic abuse victims and law enforcement, because it allows firearms to be surrendered to persons aligned with the offender. See Wis. Stat. 813.12(4m).
Domestic abuse in Wisconsin is addressed in Wis. Stats. 813.12 Domestic abuse restraining orders and injunctions. If the initial injunction was for less than four years, but expired, and the victim states that an extension is necessary to protect him/her, the statute requires the court to extend the injunction for up to four years from the date the injunction was first granted.
Forms for applying for a domestic abuse restraining order and injunction can be located at Wisconsin Court System Circuit Court forms. Assistance is also available through Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C., with offices located in Germantown, West Bend, Appleton and Sister Bay, Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Assembly legislation has now moved to the Senate for consideration.